KEALAKEKUA — It was the need for a morning cup o’ joe that led to the arrest of the driver of a white Kia Soul that’s gained notoriety on social media for its handler’s “erratic and dangerous” actions behind the wheel.
Hawaii Police officer Jason Miyashiro was stopping for coffee at the Lako Street Shell gas station around 6:25 a.m. Monday when he saw William “Willy Boy” Duarte IV enter the convenience store to purchase gas. He immediately took the 26-year-old and the heavily damaged white Kia Soul into custody, ending a four-plus-month saga that’s played out in social media groups like Big Island Popo Alert and Big Island Thieves on Facebook.
Duarte is charged with three counts first-degree resisting an order to stop; three counts reckless driving; two counts driving without a license (after having two or more prior convictions within the last five years); two counts fraudulent use of plates; and one count each second-degree reckless endangering and leaving the scene of an accident involving damage to vehicle or property, according to a complaint filed Tuesday. He remains in custody in lieu of $34,775 bail.
Following a preliminary hearing Thursday before Kona District Court Judge Margaret Masunaga in Kealakekua, the judge determined there was probable cause to support felony charges filed in connection with the incident and sent the case to Circuit Court for further proceedings. Duarte is slated to enter plea to the offenses on May 16 before Circuit Court Judge Robert D.S. Kim.
The white Kia Soul with heavy body damage Duarte had been reportedly driving gained notoriety over the past months as residents posted about the white subcompact SUV on social media. Dozens of posts on Big Island Popo Alert and Big Island Thieves garnered hundreds of comments on the vehicle, its driver and their location.
Duarte and the Kia were even the subject of a Jan. 30 post by Dog the Bounty Hunter’s Beth Chapman to Big Island Thieves asking for the community’s help locating Duarte. Responses to her post indicated run-ins with the vehicle starting in mid-January.
“This guy no care about anyone for any reason! On at least four times I’ve watched this guy take his kids on high speed chases with his kids in the car screaming, he has gone to speeds of 90-100 miles an hour as he’s swerving in and outta traffic,” she wrote. “He slammed at least three cars and ran his car till the bumpers falling off.”
The charges filed Tuesday stem from incidents that unfolded after officers attempted to stop the vehicle and its driver for traffic violations on April 21 near Lako Street and twice on Saturday, first near the intersection of Hualalai Road and Kuakini Highway and then behind the Kailua-Kona Public Library. No officers were injured in the incidents, however, police say Duarte unintentionally struck a subsidized police vehicle.
The first occurred the afternoon of April 21 when Hawaii Police officer Ansel Robinson attempted a traffic stop on the Kia on Kuakini Highway, between Lako Street and Sea View Circle.
“As soon as the lights and sirens came on, it (the Kia) swerved over the white solid line on the right hand side and began passing two or three vehicles on the right, forcing the vehicles to move to the left to avoid being struck by the vehicle,” Robinson said before noting he terminated the pursuit shortly thereafter per department policy. He watched, however, as the Kia passed two or three cars at a time, crossing the double yellow center line and not using a turn signal.
Robinson said he was already aware 0f the vehicle and Duarte because he had unsuccessfully tried to stop the Kia two months prior on Kuakini Highway. He’d also seen posts on Big Island Popo Alert complaining about the vehicle.
The next police encounter with Duarte and the Kia came about two weeks later when Miyashiro came upon the vehicle in Kailua Village.
It was about 10:32 a.m. Saturday when Miyashiro said he observed “Mr. Duarte operating a white busted up Kia Soul with fraudulent Hawaii license plate No. Hotel Delta Yankee (HDY) 423” come to a stop at the intersection of Hualalai Road and Kuakini Highway. There, the officer testified, Duarte revved the vehicle twice, lurched forward, looked Miyashiro in the eye, and revved the engine and lurched forward again.
Miyashiro, who recognized Duarte from prior police BOLOs and social media postings, then initiated a traffic stop at which time Duarte accelerated, made an illegal U-turn and headed south on Kuakini Highway, recklessly overtaking other vehicles. Miyashiro did not pursue.
However, the officer ran into Duarte and the Kia less than 15 minutes later behind the Kailua-Kona Public Library. When the vehicle began to creep forward from a parking stall as Miyashiro approached, the officer said he exited his vehicle and issued verbal commands.
“When he failed to stop, I drew my weapon and issued more verbal commands for him to stop and get out of the vehicle. They did not comply with commands and accelerated quickly,” Miyashiro testified. “As he left the Kona public library parking lot, he drove northbound in the southbound lane, climbed the curb of the southbound lane, and when he hit the second curb, his vehicle tilted and the back of his vehicle hit my car.”
Duarte then exited the lot at a high rate of speed, nearly striking vehicles as he took up both lanes of Hualalai Road.
“Once he left the area he was driving in such a reckless manner, so, I knew that if I made any attempts to follow, he would have only driven more recklessly,” Miyashiro said, “So, I just didn’t initiate any pursuit of the vehicle, notified dispatch of my disposition that I was OK and that my vehicle was struck.”
While the vehicle again fled police that day, Duarte and the Kia were located two days later at the Lako Street Shell gas station. There Duarte was apprehended by Miyashiro and later charged with a dozen offenses in connection with the incidents on Saturday and April 21.
Duarte’s girlfriend, Brenda Jose, was arrested on a warrant, police said. That same day, a child was taken into protective custody.